I have been exploring the work of MADI…
and have been talking to a very talented songwriter. She reveals the story behind her new song, Intimate, and who is in her live band; why she rebranded from ‘Maddie Jones’ – what the scene is like where she is in Wales.
I was keen to know whether any gigs were in the calendar; what sort of music she was raised on; how she spends her time away from music; three albums that mean a lot to her – MADI recommends some cool new artists.
Hi, MADI. How are you? How has your week been?
Great, thanks. I’m off to Budapest tomorrow to commiserate my birthday, so am pretty excited about all the goulash and baths I’m gonna have.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I call it ‘Weirdo-Pop’. A posher description would be electronically-tinged Art-Pop. I used to write a lot from the guitar, but I’ve been experimenting with samples and production for the last year or two, which is why I renamed myself ‘MADI’ this year. The live band includes Dan Fitzgerald (Guitar, Pedal Wizardry and Modular Synth), Chay Lockyer (Bass and Things) and Rich Welsby (Drums and Things).
Talk to me about Intimate and what the single is all about. Was it quite an easy song to put together?
The song comes from my feelings about different forms of intimacy...
There’s the intimacy when you first get together with someone and are sort of obsessive; then the playful getting to knowing each other. Then, there are things that come later, like blazing arguments and sitting in comfortable silence - which are just as intimate in their own way. Couples in their nineties are intimate in a completely different way to those in their twenties.
Musically, I was playing with a lot of samples and so I layered up a lot of elements in my version made in my studio at home. I tinkered with it A LOT, then eventually took it over to Charlie Francis (my producer) and we worked on it a lot together, to get the feel exactly right.
‘MADI’ is the reincarnation of ‘Maddie Jones’, as it were. Do you feel like you are a different person as MADI? Is there going to be more MADI material?
MADI is a clear character/aesthetic for me. ‘Maddie Jones’ changed a lot and dipped in and out of different styles because it was harder to differentiate from me and my tastes as an individual. There are two more songs already planned for release in the coming months: All Work and No Play (about balance of responsibility and hedonism, as you can probably guess) and Dirty (Word) (inspired by some of my experiences as a woman and feminist).
What was the reason behind the rebrand? Did you feel you took that part of your career as far as possible?
That part of my career felt like it had meandered a lot and lacked clear focus and direction. Stepping back from performing live allowed me to think about what I really wanted to do and the type of music I wanted to make. I wasn’t satisfied with the way things were. I’ve thought a lot about my goals as an artist - and MADI is the result.
Is there a big music scene where you are in Wales? What is the local vibe like?
There is an incredibly varied scene here - though I speak mostly from my experience of Cardiff. Womanby St. is a central hub of activity (it was saved from disastrous problems with developers by the Save Womanby St. campaign recently). There are more venues appearing gradually, but we could always do with more. HUB Festival at the end of August is a good snapshot of some of the variety in the scene here.
What sort of music were you raised on? Was music always on when you were younger?
My parents had a great collection; everything from Led Zeppelin to Vangelis to Ella Fitzgerald. I also studied music from a young age, so there was a lot of Classical, Jazz etc. in the mix too. When I started buying more of my own music, I got into bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins and Queen (in a big way!). I’ve had big Queens of the Stone Age and Prince obsessions since too.
Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?
I’m currently developing a new live show to compliment the stylistic relaunch of the music (involving lights, projections and costume etc.). It’ll be launched later in the year.
Is it possible to describe the feeling you get when up on stage? Is it were you feel most natural and alive?
I love being on the stage because I can’t see a bloody thing when I’m in the crowd (I’m five-foot-three). It’s a weird combination of feelings because I’m sort of extroverted but also intensely sort of shy in a weird way. I communicate a lot of my most complex feelings through my songs though, so it is liberating. When everything is right, and the crowd are with you, it’s the best possible feeling.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Record more songs; film LOTS of videos (I intend to have a video for every song); launch and film the live show; start booking up our tour and festival calendar!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
It would be hard to pin down one! Each album/E.P. launch I’ve done has always been pretty life-affirming - when so much work goes in and eventually pays off.
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
I have to give a nod to Queen as I had a deep obsession as a teenager. A Night at the Opera is my favourite probably.
I love St. Vincent and her self-titled album is one I played a lot and was inspired by.
A recent favourite is Kimbra’s The Golden Echo after a friend suggested I might like it after hearing Intimate.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Know thyself! You can go through the motions of being an artist but, if you don’t know what you want to achieve, you will work a lot but not feel like you’re achieving much.
IN THIS PHOTO: Dan Bettridge
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Some of my Cardiff buddies!
Dan Bettridge – Sexy-voiced folky vibe.
Junior Bill – A melting pot of vibes you can skank to.
Afro Cluster – Afro-Funk Hip-Hop
Rainbow Maniac - Dirty Rock ‘n’ Roll
Charlie Francis - The Songs for Singers album features a load of different singers from Wales.
IN THIS PHOTO: Charlie Francis
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Music is pretty much my life! I love good food and cooking! Festivals, travelling; comedy, hanging out with my nutty friends and family. Sounds like a Lonely Hearts ad!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
My Iron Lung - Radiohead